Color me dissatisfied

Today I got the big news!  Penguin is selling ebooks to libraries again.  Alright!  To quote the release "more than 10,000+ Penguin eBooks are now live and available" for public, college, and consortial libraries.  Ok, so it's just a selection of their titles, but better than the no purchase availability we've had in our network.  I really want to be excited about this, even if it is limited availability.  So what if there are still restrictions on transferring library loans of Penguin titles to Kindles.  The prices aren't bad either.  New releases for $18.99 and backlist in the $5.99 - $9.99 ballpark.

Here's the problem: "one copy/one user lending model for a one year term"

And here I've been upset about the HarperCollins 26 check out limit.  I'm still not exactly happy with the limits on HarperCollins titles, especially libraries have purchased hardcover titles from HarperCollins with lifetime warranties.  While 26 check outs is supposed to equal the number of circulations in a year, at least with the 26 check out the clock doesn't count down. 

I admit it, I have some biases.  I like owning materials.  I believe in making archival copies of personally purchased ebooks with the DRM removed so that they can be read on a different ereader down the road so they don't become inaccessible.  In a library we're not going to buy a print book that will self-destruct in a year (though the expected physical lifespan of some donated paperbacks may fit within that).

To me a year limit for an ebook is not only ludicrous, but it hurts collection development. It makes the purchase of new titles a risk.  It becomes a waste of money to buy lesser known titles or new authors regardless of the quality of the writing.  The next Dan Brown novel is a safe bet.  A novel being adapted to a highly publicized screen play?  Sure.  Everyone's heard of them and so the interest exists in those titles.  What about books like Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson or Nexus by Ramez Naam?  Have you heard about them except through me (if you have that is awesome)?  Absolutely fantastic books published within recent years, but if they were published through Penguin would they be purchased?  There is little place for non-mainstream debut titles in a one year lending model, particularly one that only discounts the titles in the sense we pay list price instead of four times list price for a digital copy.

So, call me idealistic, but I am not enthusiastic at this concession by Penguin.

Edit: OverDrive Press Release


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